The thing I wished I'd known: reaching out to other agents. I spent a lot of time tryi8ng to figure things out that other people had already figured out. ActiveRain is a great resource for that.
And while I can't say that I ever really spent a lot of time questioning if I should have gotten in this business early in my career I certainly did during the crash. I was making a mortgage payment on a new office and I was pulling money out of my 401K to keep a child in college and I had a little envy of my friends with better income in those years and still putting money in their retirement account. But I learned more about saving and I learned more about putting away from a rainy day and I learned I didn't really need all those cable channels.
I have thought about this all month long and I did some things right and other things wrong. But the three things I've learned and think would be helptul to you ... I'm going to start with what I did right. The best thing I did and suggest new agents do is go to work for the right kind of broker. What you ask, is the right kind of broker? Well many might say one who doesn't "compete", but I believe you should work for a broker who is still in the trenches and has his finger on the pulse of what is happening in the industry as a whole and on the local market.
The broker I went to work for still did about one personal deal a month, but gave leads that came into the office to the agents that worked for him. He worked just prior clients and his sphere of influence. He had enough time and did take me under his wing to learn the business through example. I got to accompany him on listing appointments, watch him prepare for showings and see how he communicated with people during the process of buying and selling.
When I started to take on clients of my own he was there to guide me. If I made a mistake he gently guided me back to the best way. He embraced what was new in the industry and held on to what was right in the industry. No one in our market had websites when I started and all agents were working for sellers as direct or sub-agents of sellers. When things changed in 1994 with agency in Georgia he was on board with representing buyers and other firms were soon gone as they didn't understand how they could work FOR a buyer. He was an educator and trainer and having a broker who believes in continuing to learn in this industry is key to success.
Other brokers in my market believe in quantity not quality. They simply were looking to collect as many "desk fees" as possible and not available and new agents flounder and many fizzle out after a short time. So the number one thing I advise is the right kind of broker. I believe that is key to a successful career. I am grateful for my former broker/mentor more than I could ever express.
The second bit of advice I'll give took me years to develop the right balance. It's emotion. This is a very emotional business. People WILL get angry with you and people will take out emotional stress on you. It took me a long time to find the balance of dealing with it and not passing it on to my family when I would get home at the end of a day where people got angry with me.
Sellers will get angry when their home doesn't sell, sellers will angry when their counter isn't accepted and buyers move on, buyers will get angry when they are outbid. None of these things are within your control and you can NOT take that anger personally.
However, you cannot approach people who are emotional about buying and selling without being a compassionate and understanding listener. You cannot be without emotion and you cannot tell them they are not entitled to have the feelings they are feeling.
Last year my sellers included:
- a former agent in declining health wanting to get his wife in place she will be able to live alone
- the widow of an agent who died
- the son I met just before his mom passed away and she was a close enough friend we'd had thanksgiving together the year prior
- a surviving co-owner with the children of her deceased partner's who were asses
- a couple no longer able to take care of home she'd built with her first husband and lived in for nearly 3 decades
- a son handling his parents estate (his parents were my former neighbors)
- a couple who moved and then the contract failed and they were frustrated of having an empty lake house
- a couple moving to take care of aging parents
- the brother of dear friend who died after a length battle with cancer 20 years after he was my buyer.
So can you tell from that list that my last year was filled with emotional sellers. I had to be very compassionate and I also had to battle my demon of depression that can come from being a very compassionate person and lot let it affect my general well being.
My advice for finding your balance is to learn to be a compassionate person without letting the emotions of this business get to you. For you it may be a tough workout at the gym or talking to a friend over coffee. My secret is the lake. I can do and sit on a dock and just let the waves of calm take over my mind and wash away the feelings and getting on with things. But there will be emotional people. You have to find your own way to deal with it or it will burn you out and eat you up.
My last bit of advice for a new agent is 2 part. A- Tell everyone you know and people you don't know you're in the real estate business. Talk to strangers in line at the super market about real estate, talk to people in FB groups about real estate, talk to people you meet at social gatherings about real estate. But also listen. This business isn't about selling houses so much as it's about people. People want it to be about THEM. You have to learn to listen and let it be about them. B- Don't get your feelings hurt when your friend does not hire you. (this one was also difficult for me to embrace) Your friends will want to ask you advice and then not hire to represent them. And sometimes it's best for your friendship if that's exactly what happens.
But you can't terminate friendships because people don't work with you. Consider if you have two friends who are mortgage brokers and you buy a new house and get a mortgage that you can't use both of them. Should one terminate your friendship because you didn't hire them?
I'm also going to toss in a bonus #4 tidbit. You are obviously on ActiveRain if you are reading this... my bonus tidbit is to embrace it. Make friends who can help you through the emotional crap, learn from others who have walked in your shoes, read, comment and make friends here. ActiveRain changed my business at a time when the market was crap. I have learned some of the best marketing strategies, tips, tools and current industry information here and I believe with all my heart it helped me survive the crash. Make time to be here and you won't regret it.